One Room Challenge Week 6: THE REVEAL!


Whew! It’s been quite the six weeks, but I am excited to finally share our living and dining room!  I am also excited to have my life back, haha. Transforming a space in six weeks was pretty intense, but I’m so glad I did the One Room Challenge and now I have a living and dining room that I love. It feels wonderful to have this one space that feels finished and inviting in a house with a million and one other things to fix and update.

If you’ve just found me through the One Room Challenge, I’m Mara Inangelo. In October 2017, my husband Frank and I bought a 1966 time-capsule ranch in Worcester, Massachusetts and we’re restoring and renovating it, bit by bit. Welcome, and I hope you enjoy my blog! You can read more about me here or contact me here.

Let's take a trip down memory lane for a minute and check out what it looked like BEFORE:


The forest green carpet, the dingy curtains, the tiny furniture, and that sad little wall clock!


I count 7 down lights in the photo above! There were at least 12, and all incandescent, with a confusing jumble of dimmers and switches throughout the room. 

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There was a hutch against that wall at some point...can't tell you how I know that, just a feeling...

And now for the AFTER:


SO MUCH BETTER, AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT? What do you think? Would you want to chill here and have a cocktail? Or maybe relax with a pop-up book while you sip on a juice box?

If you saw my previous posts, I explained my goal of creating a serene and inviting room where we could relax, but also serve as our entertaining space and be the social hub of our home. Visually, I didn’t want a lot of clutter that would interfere with the breezy vibe I was going for. I felt that it needed to be interesting and pretty, but not too precious, if that makes any sense. As the house was built in 1966, I wanted to incorporate Mid-Century Modern elements, as well as some Hollywood Regency (both post-World War II styles that I love), pared down with some inviting textures and warm, richly stained wood.

By the way, the room is actually pretty kid-friendly! Natural cotton rugs with a stain-hiding pattern, sturdy side tables (I actually caught Ronnie coloring with a purple crayon on the formica-topped one already, but thankfully it was easy to clean with a sponge and Bar Keeper’s friend), and nothing too easily breakable. Even the rattan accent chairs stand up to her yogurt-fingers!

Let’s get started with the details, shall we? Scroll down the end of the post for all the sources!


My first instinct was to keep the room white, but remove the grasscloth wallpaper and give it a fresh coat of paint. After more thought, though, I felt like it needed some color to keep it from feeling sterile. It’s a big space (the living room is 14' x 22', and the dining room is 9' x 12'ish), and I worried white would make the room feel cavernous or I’d have to compensate with lots and lots of knick-knacks and other decorative pieces to bring in some color and personality. As the front doors are are bold aqua, I decided to play off that by using a similar color, albeit much lighter and more muted. I settled on Ice Rink by Behr, which is a pale blueish green. In this space, it actually looks much closer to blue than green. The moldings and ceiling got a new coat of bright white.  I went with orangey-pinks and blues to complement the walls, as well as rich, warm browns and khakis and some warm- and cool-toned metallics.



Let’s start with this sectional we bought last fall, before we had any idea what we planned to do with the living room. We bought it because it’s extremely comfortable, made in the USA, and really, really, really good looking (Derek Zoolander voice). I like its clean lines and the linen fabric. Plus, the orange ottoman and throw pillows make it feel special. The speaker on the 1950s hi-fi (which Frank’s grandparents bought when his Mom was a teenager!) has a nice woven texture with little flecks of gold thread and I knew I wanted to play off that pattern in other elements of the space. But how? I love rattan and wicker (it’s also kid-friendly) and after a few days of ruminating on it, I remembered our two Ikea accent chairs collecting dust in the basement! They used to be on our sun porch at the old house. I think they are perfect for the space--complementing the hi-fi and sectional, yet easily moved around the room depending on the day or occasion. The two pink armchairs are from West Elm, and create an additional seating area that's more intimate, but still has sight lines to the sectional and accent chairs. The silver side table is also from West Elm, and the other side table is vintage, a $50 Brimfield find from a few years ago.


In the dining area, we bought a new table and sideboard that fit nicely in the space, both in terms of size and style.



The lighting is pretty simple! I wanted to keep the smooth horizontal plane of the ceiling to enhance the feeling of an open, expansive room without any light fixtures hanging down. We removed a few extraneous down lights, and swapped out the remaining ones for new LED fixtures. We also incorporated a Mid-Century table lamp with a cylindrical, pink and aqua shade we've had for years. But, the real showpiece of the room is this crystal chandelier over the dining table that came with the house! Man, I love it:



The window treatments are sheer drapes that span the entire length of the room. They are pleated at the top, and all those extra folds give them a luxurious look, don't you think? They were already here when we bought the house, and we just washed 50+ years of dust off them (it was gross). I think they give the space a dramatic look and when they are closed, they bathe the room in a warm, diffused light that is really lovely. Yay for using what's already there!



Rounding up the back--artwork! I knew I wanted a gallery wall above the vintage hi-fi and sectional and I wanted a large piece for the dining room area. Other than that, I wanted to incorporate a lot of pieces we already owned and/or were special to us in some way.

This bullseye mirror used to sit in our foyer at the old place, but I don’t think anyone ever noticed it, judging by the fact that a few people have asked me if it’s new! Now it’s front and center and I really feel like it brings some depth and interest to the gallery wall. It also picks up the details of the chandelier over the dining table. It's from Crompton Collective

I’ve had the Jackie O New York magazine cover for years, and the framed letter is from JFK to Frank’s grandfather in 1951, thanking him for being a gracious host to the then-Congressman’s personal secretary, who had visited Worcester earlier that year. Jack and Jackie, together again, at least on our living room wall!


The other photos and art pieces are things we’ve collected over the years, picked up in thrift shops or received as gifts. We brought them together visually with matching frames from Ikea.


I bought two boldly-colored abstract canvas prints over at Society6 and this large print of the Hollywood Sign from Jenny’s Print Shop. I love how it’s the back of the sign, instead of the front. It’s easily recognizable, but at a different angle that I find interesting.


In the dining room, the wicker mirror is from Target (though no longer for sale, booo), and the candle-sconces are vintage, from Crompton Collective as well.


  1. PAINT - Ice Rink, by Behr
  3. RUGS - Burbank Faded Denim Stripes Rug, RugsUSA
  5. BLUE AND CORAL THROW,  Opal House, Target
  6. MARTINI SIDE TABLE, Silver, West Elm
  7. DINING ROOM TABLE*, Carolina Preserves
  8. DINING ROOM SIDE BOARD, Carolina Preserves
  9. ABSTRACT CANVAS PRINTS, Society6 here and here
  10. HOLLYWOOD PRINT, Jenny's Print Shop
  11. PICTURE FRAMES, Ribba, by Ikea (assorted sizes)
  12. PINK EARTHENWARE VASE, Project 62, Target

VINTAGE PIECES: Hi-Fidelity Stereo and Record Player, Bullseye "Federalist Style" Mirror, Dining Room Wall Sconces, Two-Tier Formica Side Table in Living Room, Art and Decorative Items

*I couldn't find these for sale online, but we found ours at a local furniture store.

So, that’s it--I’d love to hear what you think, and let me know if you have any questions!


I’d like to give a few shout-outs: first, to Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne for the beautiful photos that really tell the story of this room and to all of you reading this blog--my family and friends--who have been following along with the positive vibes and encouragement! Thanks to Linda Weinstein for organizing the One Room Challenge, and House Beautiful for being a media partner. And to all the featured designers and my fellow guest participants, I am so inspired by everything you’ve created. I’m already thinking about the Fall ORC (don’t tell Frank)!

Speaking of Frank, he deserves the biggest thanks of them all for putting up with my shenanigans and helping to execute my vision with his hard work and attention to detail. The room looks incredible because of him. Coincidentally, today is also our 4th wedding anniversary, so I’d like to send gratitude and love to him for being the best partner I could ever ask for. Here's to many more years, and many more DIY projects (heh) together. Love you, Frank!



One Room Challenge Week 5: Get ‘er Done!


So I’m a day late and a dollar short with this week’s post, but a lot has been happening behind the scenes! I’m literally typing this from my phone as we take some photos of the space, haha. I’ve spent the week taking inventory of my own art work and decorative pieces, and also bought a few small things to add color and depth to the room. 

Some highlights from our collection: an antique camera, our tiki mugs, and a framed letter from JFK to Frank’s grandfather from 1951. Its always tough to find that balance between keeping things pulled together with a consistent color palette and style while giving the space personality and not feel like an uptight furniture store display or something. 

We spent last Sunday hanging artwork, which turned out to be quite tricky with the angled walls! The house is shaped like a boomerang, and comes to a point where the living and dining areas meet with a 30-degree angle. Making things look symmetrical took a lot of MATH, which is not typically my forte but I did remember a few important points from high school gemometry and I think it came together nicely, tee hee.  

Next week is the Big Reveal and I’m excited to share all the work we’ve put into it! Check out my insta, where I’ll be sharing some sneak peeks this week. Have a great weekend! 

One Room Challenge Week 3: Finalizing the Room Layout + Hanging in There

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So it’s Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, and I’m feeling a little stressed and hoping I can pull this all together by Week 6! The troops over here are suffering from decision fatigue and low morale due to a hectic couple of weeks at work and at home, many back-ordered items, and lack of sleep thanks to some dodgy off-brand sleep diapers. Intrigued, are you? I thought so!

Although I'm on the Freak Out Train currently, I HAVE made progress on the room lay out! See my quick Sketchup model above. My goal is to create two distinct seating areas that can be easily combined into one when the need arises. Seating Area 1 will have two arm chairs and a small table. There’s a clear line of sight straight from the front doors and the foyer into the living room here, and I want to create a nice vignette as you enter the house: two cozy and inviting chairs with a view out to the backyard beyond. Seating Area 2 is for the sectional and matching ottoman, and will have two smaller accent chairs that can be moved around the room, or moved out completely for dance parties, playing ice cream truck, playing taco truck, or playing hamburger truck (we’re heavy into food truck cosplay at the moment). It’s all about creating a couple of smaller, intimate seating areas within the larger space. I want to retain the open, expansive feel of the room while creating a couple of areas that feel more snug. A space within a space, if you will. 

So, back to my neurotic ramblings: we thought we were ahead of the game last week: we had scraped the wallpaper off, patched and painted the walls, and updated the electrical outlets and switches and installed new down lights. I went to order two chairs I had selected (for Seating Area 1), and saw that they were on back order. Grrrr. My second choices were also out of stock. Ugh emojis all around. So I was back to square one, and starting to panic. I was looking for two armchairs that would:

  1. Complement our new sectional in terms of style, color, and scale
  2. Not cost an arm and a leg

Apparently that's a tall order. After a solid week of scouring the interwebs, however, I did end up finding a couple of gems! 

My other big struggle, while we’re on the subject of First World Problems, has been finding a rug to fit nicely in this room. While the space is big (14’ wide by 24’ long), its proportions are a bit unusual. Most standard rugs are 9’ x 12’, 10’ x 14’ or 8’ x 10’--all sizes that would look downright puny in the room on their own. I’m starting to understand why the former owners covered the hardwood floors with wall-to-wall--they probably got tired of rug shopping!

After sketching out the room and trying all different shapes and sizes, I finally decided to go with two smaller 5’ x 8’ rugs and one large 10’ x 14’ rug of the same style. The patterns will be oriented in the same direction to give the sense, visually, that they are one element. I'm hoping this works. I never know how it will truly work out until it’s in the room, but since they have free shipping and returns, I’m giving it a go! Here there are:


I will probably need covers to keep the chairs from getting destroyed by cats and toddlers, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Any tips would be appreciated in the meantime!

As for the diapers in question, when they were out of our regular brand at the store last week, we bought the generics, thinking, hey, what’s the worst that could happen?! The worst that could happen was four straight days of night-waking, a lot of Curious George at 3 a.m. and all of us feeling like zombies during the day. We finally put two and two together and realized it was the cheap diapers making us miserable. I love an easy fix--and that was probably the easiest fix I've encountered as a parent so far. Now we are sleeping through the night, thankfully.

I'm feeling better even as I write this--I'm ready for Week 4 and finishing up the room with artwork and styling! ONWARD! 

One Room Challenge Week 2: Scraping Wallpaper + Prepping Walls + We've Got Paint!


Week 2 of the One Room Challenge! During Week 1, I shared some BEFORE photos as well as my plans for the space. This week we’ve been getting the room prepped and ready for its transformation. This involved removing the existing grasscloth wallpaper (which had been painted over), repairing some small holes and cracks in the walls and ceiling, and updating the electrical fixtures, outlets and switches. So, it doesn’t look super exciting yet, but believe me, it feels 1000x fresher up in here!


We pulled up the green carpet soon after moving in about six months ago. At the open house, the seller’s agent had mentioned there were hardwoods under the wall-to-wall and she wasn’t lying!


When I was trying to decide on a color for the living room, my mind initially went towards keeping it white. Even though the room was tired-looking, I felt the white walls and ceiling made it feel airy and expansive. However, the more I thought about it, I felt that it needed some color. I fell in love with this very pale blue-green, called Ice Rink, by Behr. The color plays well off the kitchen backsplash tile, as well as the house’s other aqua elements (the front doors, the sinks) but in a lighter, more muted way. It will provide the perfect backdrop for pops of coral, pink, royal blue, and yellow!

Oh, and we bought a sectional! Actually, we bought it a few months ago, in desperate need of something for guests to sit on during the holidays. It's wonderfully comfortable and looks great; I highly recommend Klaussner if you're looking for good quality furniture that's in the mid-range in terms of price. We got a great deal on it during a Black Friday sale. It also happens to be Josie's favorite chill spot. She clocks at least 4 hours per day on this sofa, so you know it's comfortable.


Sully prefers the ottoman:


We also removed the old 1967 dimmer switches and outlets and replaced them with safe, tamper-proof ones. Still cool to see the manufacture date and that it was made in the U.S.A.!


So here's a recap of what we've* completed so far:

  1. Removed 3 extra down lights, patched ceiling
  2. Replaced remaining down lights with LED fixtures (our electric bill went down $60 after replacing these, and a few others in the house!)
  3. Repaired and Painted Ceiling
  4. Removed existing wall-to-wall carpet
  5. Removed painted over wallpaper, patched walls
  6. Painted Walls
  7. Replaced existing light switches and outlets

* Frank

And here is a sneak peek of what the room is starting to look like! Don't mind the anti-scratch tape on the sofa, the cats decided, after never really scratching at furniture before, to really go for it in 2018. You have to respect them for sticking with their New Year's Resolution. 


That's all for week I'll be finalizing the furniture layout. I've got a few decisions still to make and I'll explain what makes selecting furniture for this room tricky!

One Room Challenge Week 1: Plans For A Dreamy Midcentury Modern Living and Dining Room


As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided to join in the fun over at the One Room Challenge this spring, with the goal of transforming a space in 6 short weeks. I've chosen our living/dining room, as that's the largest space in the house and the place where we hang out and entertain guests. I'd like to have at least one room that's up to snuff for the summer. For my own house (i.e. without the external deadline of a client or work project), I’m TERRIBLE at finishing spaces. I’m great at getting started--with colors, the overall look and feel, and statement pieces like a new sofa, but when it comes to finishing it up with artwork, styling, and that final polish, I agonize about finding the “perfect” pieces and before I know it, it’s been a year and my walls are still mostly bare. I think the ORC will be a great way to get inspired, as well as hold me accountable and help get ‘er done so we’ll have a nice living and entertaining space heading into the warm months.

Here’s My Plan:

  1. Remove the carpet and painted-over grasscloth wallpaper

  2. Repair the plaster cracks in the ceiling and remove extra down lights

  3. Replace existing down lights with efficient LED fixtures

  4. Re-wire the light fixtures, switches, and outlets and add new (safe) covers

  5. Paint ceiling, walls and trim

  6. Add new seating, an area rug, light fixtures, and storage

  7. Style the space with artwork, accessories, and decorative pieces

Easy, right?! I’m sure I’ll be working right down the wire, but what’s the old saying? If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. I’ll be posting my progress each Thursday, so be sure to check back here to see how it's coming along! 

So here is the room as it looked just after we moved in. It's a sunken living room on one side, and on the other side is the dining area, which is two steps up. It's a pretty great space for dance parties with a toddler, family dinners, and cat naps in the sun (whether you are human or feline).



We threw that area rug over the green one so I could have a level of comfort allowing Ronnie to play without getting 50 years of carpet cooties. And our furniture looks like it came from a doll house! The scale is way off due to this room being about 2.5 times the size of our old living room.


It’s got lots of potential, but the green carpet? The grasscloth wallpaper they painted over (with haste, I might add)? The cigar-stained ceiling? The multiple incandescent down lights that easily added fifty dollars to the electric bill each month? Just--no.


The former owner had a giant hutch in the dining room, and apparently they just painted AROUND it! Haha. I hope he didn't pay full price. 

I think the layout will be the biggest challenge for this space. The previous inhabitants had a lot of furniture (a sectional, a sofa, multiple accent chairs, tables….) and the space still felt big. It’s about 22 feet long by 14 feet wide, so I’m going to be playing around with a few different furniture plans, with the goal of keeping the room feeling airy and spacious, but not empty. I’ll also need to go with larger pieces that feel appropriate for the scale of the room. I'll be working to make the room feel cozier and not too big or cavernous. In my past homes and apartments, I've had the opposite problem--constantly trying to pare down and make the space feel bigger and not claustrophobic. 

So here’s what I’m thinking: a serene, ethereal space with lots of blue, pink, and gold. I'd like it to feel like a happy afternoon daydream! I'm still working out some sources and details, but here's what I've got so far in terms of inspiration:

My homework for the weekend is to nail down a furniture layout and finalize a budget. Frank is going to be finishing up the lights, patching/repairs, and paint. Whoo, let's do this!